Leaving us in stitches. A father’s tribute to a brave daughter, and her beautiful scar.

January 31, 2012

I think she knew the answer, but the question came anyway.

“Dad, will this needle hurt?”

The Teenager was sitting in a cubicle at the Children’s Hospital, looking at me with wide eyes. And a gaping hole in her chin.

An hour earlier, she’d fainted. Dropped in the kitchen like a sack of spuds. On the way down, she caught the sharp edge of a kitchen cupboard.

She stood up, her gorgeous face sliced. A serious wound, in the shape of an uneven horseshoe.

The Treasurer and Daughter Two rushed her to the emergency ward. No tears or fuss.

I’d arrived from work soon after. There she was, still in her summer pyjamas, sitting on the bed, smiling. She showed me the damage. My heart sank.

Doctors and nurses fussed over her, prodding, and asking questions. She smiled at them too. Gave polite answers. Then asked for her phone so she could send a photo to all her friends.

It was then decided that the repair work needed to be done by a plastic surgeon. Just to be sure. We were lucky. It was early on Australia Day. The public holiday rush hadn’t started. The specialist was available.

He arrived within twenty minutes. Good looking, naturally. Blonde hair, fit and confident. And young. I have socks that are older.

But his manner was calming. He explained what needed to be done. There would be stitches. And an injection into her face, to stop any pain.

Up until this point, The Teenager had been remarkably calm. Unlike the rest of us. When Doctor Dashing left, her mood changed.

My daughter has two great fears in life. Vomiting, and needles. She was about to experience one. With fears it would lead to the other.

“Dad, will this needle hurt?”

As parents, we spend our life protecting. Shielding children from pain whenever we can. I wanted so much to say she wouldn’t feel a thing. That everything would be ok.

From experience, I knew what was ahead. And I couldn’t lie.

“Well, the needle will hurt. But that’s so you don’t feel the stitching. Some discomfort, to make sure the rest is painless.”

Tears welled in those big eyes. And there was nothing I could do.

We moved to a bigger room, where such procedures are done. Doctor Dashing scrubbed up. His nurse told The Teenager to lie on the bed. No turning back now.

The Treasurer stood bedside, holding her hands. Tightly. I ended up at the other end. Holding her knobbly kneecaps. I don’t know why. It seemed like a soothing thing at the time.

Her loving sister was also in the room. I stopped worrying about how the ordeal was affecting her, when I realised she was practising dance moves next to the oxy-viva. And posting updates on Facebook.

I had a clear view of the pain killing needle going in. That giant, long, thick, ghastly needle. That made my little girl cry.

Doctor Dashing was trying to work quickly, but it seemed to take an eternity. Numb the area, and irrigate the wound. She was trying so hard not to sob.

They gave her time to compose herself, before the stitching began. I told her to close her eyes, and go to a happy place. She nodded, through the tears. I swear I felt her pain.

My daughter dug deep, and found strength I didn’t know she possessed. She lay still, eyes closed, possibly imagining she was on a beach somewhere with Cody Simpson. The place that allowed her to receive twenty stitches without flinching.

That night, there was extra chocolate, and even more chick flicks than usual. She went back to school the next day, even though we said she could have the day off.

The Teenager’s dream, for as long as any of us can remember, has been to be a model. And she won’t be letting a bunch of stitches get in the way.

She has already¬†devised a strategy. Australia’s first Supermodel with a scar. With the gory photos to prove it.

Her positive attitude blows me away. So, too, her bravery. And in my eyes, she’s more beautiful than ever. Every bit of her. Even those kneecaps.

The model family. Except for Dad. He’s got a head like a smashed crab.

September 27, 2011

I accept that I won’t be mistaken for Brad Pitt anytime soon.

It’s never been an issue. Not everyone can be blessed with dashing Hollywood looks.

These days, it’s fair to say that I’m built more for comfort than speed. Maturity, at least in appearance.

It was never a problem when I worked on the wireless. I feature in the Wikipedia entry titled “Great head for radio.”

Don’t tell anyone in the TV world. They haven’t seemed to notice yet. Even behind the scenes I have the potential to frighten small kids and animals.

The reason I feel compelled to outline these cosmetic shortcomings, is that the women in my life are the complete opposite.

They are all good sorts. And it seems others are noticing.

The Teenager is tall, elegant, and gorgeous. That’s a Dad Description.

Daughter Two as well. Another rare beauty. Dad Description # 2. We’re told they have a young, natural look. This, apparently, is a good thing.

Both did a school holiday course a while back, on the basics of deportment. It was run by a leading model agency. They must have been professional, because it cost me a small fortune.

Over a week, the young ladies are shown such things as how to walk tall, and why it’s poor form to spit on the footpath.

It concluded with a formal evening, and as I munched on what must have been the world’s most expensive sausage roll, I had to admit that they both looked stunning.

I thought that would be the end of it. Wrong. There were photos planned for the following week. I pondered a second mortgage. And still more surprises were ahead.

When The Treasurer took them to the studio, a funny thing happened. The photographer decided the girls’ mother should be in the shoot too.

She does have past experience in the modelling world. One year, she was known as the Tuggerah Lakes Mardi Gras Queen. At a younger age. Not that she’s old now. Anyway, let’s move on..

It was decided in the studio, possibly by someone with a pony tail, that the three of them had Something. Together, they had The Look.

Advertisers are constantly searching for The Look. They want happy, smiling families, to show off cars, or cough medicines, or new homes.

After some snaps were taken of mother and daughters, it was suggested that they could be used in commercials. This excited them greatly.

There was, of course, a problem. The happy, smiling family was missing someone. Me.

Forget the fact that I would rather stick bamboo sticks under my toenails than sit in on a photo shoot. This family still needs a father.

The girls explained that the agency would use a replacement dad. It was noted that this didn’t seem to concern them greatly. I could tell by the laughter.

I’m not getting too worried yet. They’re still waiting for the phone call. When it comes, I’ve promised to support my model family. As long as I get a cut of the takings.

I’ve told them I want a say in who plays the part of me. And the ground rules are clear. First and foremost, he can’t be too good-looking.

My stand in needs to be believable. A little older. Maybe carrying a few pounds. A form guide in his pocket. Reading glasses. And bad dress sense. Now, where can we find someone like that?